Creating the Best Clean Energy Jobs Bill

January 18, 2018

As we gear up for another legislative session, the wheels are already in motion to pass a bill that will create good-paying jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and promote local renewable energy. The Clean Energy Jobs bill puts Oregon on the cusp of setting a new path for clean energy production that other jurisdictions will be able to follow. But like any major overhaul, the devil is in the details.

Sierra Club has worked for over a decade to reduce the climate impacts of our fossil-fuel-dependent electric utilities. And on one hand, this bill is a huge step in the right direction: it’s a robust policy that caps greenhouse gas emissions, increases the cost of pollution to big businesses, and reinvests that money into communities. The state’s largest polluters will be charged for their dirty business practices with caps on major emissions while business will continue to grow and thrive. The program will increase jobs and drive revenue to clean energy, transportation, healthier communities, and transition funds for workers impacted by climate change or policies. The Clean Energy Jobs bill will also make fossil fuel projects in Oregon more expensive and increasingly less competitive with clean energy, further tipping the scales towards our goal of 100% clean renewable energy.

While there are tremendous benefits to the current bill, we also want to  avoid the mistakes and giveaways that other states have made. For example, without additional safeguards, big polluters could continue spewing dangerous pollutants other than greenhouse gases. These mega-polluters tend to be located near frontline communities, creating concentrated “hotspots” of pollution that disproportionately impact low income people, people of color, and rural and Tribal communities. The Sierra Club believes we can fight climate change without sacrificing public health and we are working to ensure that ALL Oregonians benefit from this legislation

For now, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is working on and watching this bill closely to better understand its impact on both climate change and public health. As a grassroots organization, we’ve appointed a leadership team of smart and dedicated volunteers to meet with with various stakeholders, learn more, and determine our final position.No matter what, the path Oregon chooses on carbon emissions and greener jobs will have tremendous impact. We need your voice to make this the best bill possible. Contact Nakisha Nathan to learn more or volunteer: nakisha.nathan@sierraclub.org, 503-238-0442, x 301.


Mike Brune Cracks the Methane Myth, Hits Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector

January 17, 2018

By Ted Gleichman

How many times have you heard the meme “Natural gas is the bridge to the future”?  We’ve known for years that is not true, but now we can quantify exactly how much ‘natural’ gas — that is, fracked gas or fossil gas — can contribute to solving the climate crisis.  It’s an important number: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. A Goose Egg. A Shut Out. In fact, a complete myth.  Let’s call this fallacy the Methane Myth, and it is past time to end it.

A top national leader in fighting this obsolete belief for many years now, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune just struck a blow in the national press against Oregon’s own worst, most dangerous, most destructive fossil fuel exploitation project: the scheme to bring fracked gas from Canada and/or the Rockies through Southern Oregon for liquefaction in Coos Bay and export to Asia.

Michael Brune

Mike Brune.  Photo credit: Sierra Club

Brune used his January 12 Huffington Post article to highlight a comprehensive new national report on Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector by Oil Change International (OCI).  OCI is a top national ally to Sierra Club, and focuses on state-of-the-art deep analytical work, “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the … transition to clean energy.”

Brune created his own brilliant framing on the Methane Myth in a 2013 debate on fracking sponsored by The Economist, when he summed it up: “Natural gas is not a bridge: it’s a gangplank.”  Sierra Club has long been the top eco-group fighting coal, and on Brune’s watch has dramatically expanded its national leadership as one of the key players against oil and gas as well.  Brune, working with leadership from the Member-elected national Board of Directors and with strong support from the seasoned executive team he’s built and strengthened,  and the rapidly-diversifying national and local staff, has also led the Sierra Club into its most innovative and ground-breaking evolution yet: a deep commitment to environmental justice and its growth, social justice and immigration, and the fight against income inequality and for green jobs.

The OCI report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline & Jordan Cove Energy Project (JC/PC) is the best assessment that has ever been done and is summarized in this press release.  The OCI evaluation of the climate devastation that this Canadian fracked-gas export scheme represents includes three key components:

  • It is comprehensive.  It includes and charts every aspect of fracked-gas extraction, distribution, processing, liquefaction, shipping, and overseas consumption — all based specifically on JC/PC.
  • It is conservative.  OCI used the numbers provided by JC/PC for their own direct in-state emissions, from the JC/PC application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a federal construction license and eminent domain approval, taking them at their legally-binding word.  Then they added in the best peer-reviewed science available for other emissions.  This approach means that the analysis is solid: it cannot be attacked as puffed or overblown.  It is intentionally on the low-end of the damage assessment.
  • It is completely damning.  OCI shows that there is no “climate benefit” whatsoever in mining fossil gas, shipping it across the Pacific, and burning it in Asia.  The Canadian developer’s continued claims that this is good for planet are just another climate-denier distortion in the Methane Myth.
    My simple summary is this:
    There is no fossil fuel solution to the fossil fuel crisis.
    The only solution is to keep it in the ground and build the just transition.

IMPORTANT: Please download this vital report.  And please distribute it and Brune’s analysis of it far and wide!  Generations to come thank you!

Ted Gleichman, Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Team, Oregon Chapter

Ruby Pipeline Clearcut-Klamath County

The end of the Ruby Pipeline near Malin, Oregon, bringing fracked gas from the Rockies to the interstate interconnection point where the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would begin.
Photo: Ted Gleichman

 


Thirteen years of fighting to stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline

October 27, 2017

Thirteen years! This week is the 13th anniversary of the brutal fracked-gas export scheme assaulting the families, farms, ranches, woodlands, public lands, rivers, watersheds, mountains, estuaries, and coast of Southern Oregon.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of fighting to stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline from slashing a three-foot diameter explosive methane-filled pipeline, 230 miles from the Klamath River basin to Coos Bay. It would rip a clear-cut the size of an Interstate Highway through back yards and national forests; through five rivers and more than 400 streams and wetlands; through our public lands and the fragile homes of dozens of endangered and threatened species; through Indigenous burial grounds and historic and prehistoric archaeological artifacts.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of exposing the greed and insanity of the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Export Terminal plan to build on a sand spit right on the fracture line of the largest and most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zone in North America, on the edge of Coos Bay. They are aiming to run massive LNG tankers filled with explosive Canadian methane to Asia – tankers officially classified as “terrorism magnets,” so dangerous that the entire Port must be shut down by the Coast Guard when these monster ships move, disrupting recreational boating, commercial shipping and fisheries, and tourism — and costing jobs.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of Canadian energy speculators exploiting the Cheney loopholes for fracked-gas pollution, now scheming with the Trump Regime take-over of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to shove eminent domain down the throats of hundreds of Landowners along the pipeline route.

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This has gone on too long. The good news is that together, we can stop it! No matter where you live in Oregon, you can easily link up with neighbors and activists to bring this insanity to a halt. The Sierra Club has developed strong plans, solid legal and economic analysis, and tight alliances with like-minded organizations to stop Pacific Connector and Jordan Cove.

Together, we will stop these pig-headed greedy speculators and work for healthy sustainable change in our society.

Thanks so much!

Ted Gelichman
Policy Advisor, Oregon beyond Gas and Oil Campaign
ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org


Executive Committee Elections are Approaching!

October 27, 2017
The Oregon Chapter is preparing for the upcoming annual elections, and the Nominations Committee has submitted a slate of seven candidates that are running for election for five positions on the Executive Committee.  All members will be receiving a ballot either by mail or electronically, and we encourage everyone to participate!  More information on the current seven candidates will be coming soon.

But in the meantime before we vote, our members have the opportunity to recommend their own candidates for these positions.  Per our bylaws, the name of any Chapter member proposed in writing by at least 1 percent of the Chapter members shall also be included on the ballot.  If anyone wishes to petition another Chapter member for the ballot, please get in touch with Conservation Director Rhett Lawrence (rhett.lawrence@sierraclub.org) and begin gathering the requisite number of member signatures.  The signatures must be gathered and submitted by November 10th!

Following the finalization of the slate of candidates, ballots are expected to go out by November 17th.  We are excited about the candidates this year, and look forward to the election. Again, please vote!  All votes will be due December 22nd.

Thank you for your participating and support of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club!


We would like you to meet Erika Alabarca, the unstoppable Portland volunteer!

October 24, 2017

For Erika Alabarca, volunteering at the Sierra Club was personal. In 2003, her brother Adam tragically passed away in a car accident at just shy of 30 years old. Adam had been a passionate activist for the Club here in Portland, working on the important local elections of the day. He was so strongly committed to his environmental activism, in fact, that rather than buy flowers for his funeral, people were encouraged to donate to the Sierra Club to set up a fund for environmental education.Erika alabarca 2

That year Erika flew out from New York City, planning to visit Portland temporarily to get to know her brother’s life — meet his friends, see where he worked, and connect with everyone and everything he had been involved in. That visit became a permanent move; Erika, originally from Wisconsin, has been in Oregon ever since and has dived head first into the advocacy role that her brother had filled.  

Though Erika met the Club’s regional director when she first moved west in 2004, she spent the majority of that year concentrated on national projects, working for the eight months prior to the presidential election on the Environmental Voter and Building Environmental Communities campaigns. In 2007 Erika embarked on a new project: increasing awareness of all the environmental issues still afflicting New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Distressed that the situation was fading from the media spotlight while there was still enormous need for sustainable rebuilding, she and a small group of others hatched an idea for a three-part awareness campaign. Through an art exhibit at City Hall and panel discussions in the newly renovated Armory building regarding themes of environment, home, and displacement, Erika and her partners raised $8,000 for the Alliance for Affordable Energy.

Erika Alabarca

For the past year-and-a-half, Erika, who is a Portland Public School teacher by day, has been part of the Columbia Network Steering Committee, and is closely tying those two worlds together. The opportunity for her to do so is the sweeping Climate Justice Resolution, endorsed by many of the city’s teachers, the Club, and now adopted by the Portland Public School Board.  

The resolution is the first of its kind from any school system in the country and instructs the district to look at both new and current curricula in order to teach the severity, human causes, and human influences of climate change. Not only that, but the resolution dedicates time for professional development for teachers and administrators to bring climate justice education into their schools so that students will be empowered to develop climate literacy and look at environmental issues through an equity lens.

As with any resolution, Erika cautions that the work is ongoing. But with the resolution turning a new page for Portland Public Schools, we have the opportunity to look forward to another generation of young people who not only understand the climate crisis and perils facing the environment, but have the energy, passion, and relentless drive to do something about it; just like Adam and Erika Alabarca.  

 


Welcome Trevor Kaul!

October 13, 2017

Trevor Kaul is a nonprofit capacity builder with over 15 years of experience, including 7 years working for the Sierra Club in Washington State. A dynamic advocate and leader, he specializes in talent management, problem solving, and developing program strategies which deliver immediate impact while fulfilling long-term organizational priorities. Trevor began his career as a community organizer and advocate working for groups like the Sierra Club, Public Interest Network, and Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In national leadership roles at Taproot Foundation and Coaching Corps, Trevor applied systems oriented thinking to highlight patterns of organizational behavior and recommend enhancements to change theory and performance management. As a consultant with Grassroots Solutions and Venture Leadership Consulting, Trevor partnered with youth development and social justice organizations to provide strategic program evaluation and leadership services.

Trevor is extremely excited to be returning to the Sierra Club. During his tenure as the Washington State Director of the Sierra Club, he helped grow the chapter into a leader in the environmental community by building high performing teams, establishing diverse partnerships, and doubling fundraising. He’s looking forward to working with the volunteer leaders in Oregon to achieve similar success.

A student of humanity with an adventurous side, Trevor is a world traveler, nature lover, and a graduate of Westminster College, MO.

Trevor pic


This is the story of amazing Sierra Club volunteer, Dave Stowe! And his journey to protect and keep Waldo Lake wild.

September 26, 2017

Dave Stowe

Dave Stowe grew up in Bend back when it was an eighth of its current population. There was no sprawl of development, be it extensive housing or tourism infrastructure. No, in those days where the city ended, the forest began.

Long before he was campaigning to get wilderness designations in Oregon, Dave was hiking the region when the Wilderness Act was first passed in 1964. He spent his childhood camping, paddling, hunting, fishing, and generally exploring the mountains, lakes, and desert surrounding his family home, spending countless hours and nights outside. In fact, the Stowes have lived in Central Oregon for generations, well prior to Oregon becoming a state, so Dave’s childhood was full of not only his own stories of adventure in the woods, but his grandparents’ memories of those same meaningful places, and their stories of their grandparents there before them.  

In the early 1990s while living in San Diego, Dave joined the Sierra Club as a volunteer, bringing with him his deeply-held passion for the environment and his inclination to find common ground.  Though he spent a number of years fighting land subdivision in Southern California, it was not until Dave came home to Bend that his work with the Club really clicked.

Dave returned to a Bend he didn’t recognize.  Development was rampant in his eyes, and the old, natural boundaries around town were getting overrun.  But after heading out to a roadless area a mile up in the Cascades where he hadn’t been for three decades, he had a renewed sense of connectedness.  That special place was Waldo Lake.

Thus, the Keep Waldo Wild campaign was born in 2011, largely out of Dave’s desire to protect the area in perpetuity.  But Waldo Lake was not simply another location to designate; it was a lake so unique and important that Dave knew it would quickly become a rallying point– plus the location of our ever-popular annual campout.  

That’s because, as Dave likes to explain, Waldo is perhaps the single purest lake in the world, an ultraoligotrophic (extremely low in nutrients) water body that collects its water from rainfall and snowmelt in the surrounding old-growth (which just so happens to be the state’s largest stand of ancient Mountain Hemlock) rather than from an inflowing river.  It’s hard to describe how clear Waldo’s waters are without seeing them in person, but two points lend a hand in visualization.  First, paddlers often comment that they feel they’re “flying” or “floating on air” due to the clarity of the water. Second, the underwater visibility, which can extend for over 150 feet, rivals or exceeds that of lab-distilled water.  

Dave Stowe

Waldo is home to an impressive array of wildlife too.  Pileated Woodpeckers, Spotted Owls, Sooty and Ruffed Grouse, and mid-sized carnivores such as Pine Martens and the rare Pacific Fisher can all be found in the area, while Wolverines are suspected of using the region as a migration corridor. Luckily, development is noticeably absent from Waldo.  As the second biggest lake in Oregon, it is possibly the only large lake left in the west that is still commercially undeveloped.

 While Waldo is surrounded on three of four sides by Wilderness area, the Southeast, although somewhat protected, lacks an equally permanent protection designation.  But Dave is working to change that.  After a push to successfully ban seaplanes and gas-powered motorboats on the lake (in which the state marine board received the highest volume of letters in its history), the next step was to get the remaining tract–around 75,000 acres of lakeshore land–designated as a Forest Conservation Area, a rare proposal for National Forests, but common for the Bureau of Land Management.  And while the old strategy for protection had revolved around litigation, Dave strived to reach out to diverse interest groups, befriending timber lobbyists and mountain bikers alike.  In this way, the new designation would preserve ultrarunners and mountain bikers’ current trail access in the areas that were most important to them, and set aside the remaining acreage as pure Wilderness, thus creating a win-win for all and satisfying the Club’s environmental goals, allowing Waldo Lake to remain perfectly clean and clear for future generations.

Ultimately though, this designation will require a bill in Congress, an unlikely proposition at the moment considering the state of politics in Washington, D.C.  In the meantime, the Keep Waldo Wild campaign will continue to work just as ever to protect and preserve this beautiful area of Oregon.  Your ongoing support is what makes this work possible and empowers volunteers like Dave!